I’ve been reading how lumberyards and building-product suppliers are proactively changing how they do business to protect their employees and customers. They’re doing this to protect the financial health of their businesses. Remodelers need to do the same.
Adjusting how you sell your work is important. The good news: It can be done, in many cases, without having to physically meet. Even if meeting in person is necessary, staying at least 6 feet away from each other can be a practical option on sales calls. When it comes to the install, it’s more difficult to protect your workers and clients.
Doing just exterior work can help support a strategy of social distancing, provided workers are trained on how to do so. But only offering and performing exterior work is not practical for many remodelers.
Social distancing is more difficult when you are doing interior work. The virus can survive on surfaces for many hours, so maintaining a healthy environment during the work and leaving it clean might not be easily accomplished if your team is following traditional work practices. Your prospects will quickly figure this out, and it could get in the way of selling work. Clients already onboard might also worry about these concerns and decide to postpone or cancel their projects.
A Reward for Those Who Know RRP
It occurred to me that many of the work practices I taught while doing RRP Certified Renovator Training could easily be used and/or adapted to help keep interior projects moving forward. The protocols for how the work is done have been created. They’ve been documented and proven to be effective. Articulating your new way of working will be challenging at first; but with the right plan, some marketing and the right sales approach, the RRP training that many remodelers hated might just be a powerful solution your business can use during these trying times.
Think Containment and Differentiate
The EPA called a lot of what was taught in class “work practices,” but I disagreed with that term. Really, the training was about containment. These containment practices can be used on jobsites to separate the work and workers from its occupants. Following RRP practices, like installing and maintaining vertical containment, can differentiate your company from your competition and, if explained properly, help build confidence that having the work done will be safe.
Using the right configuration, vertical containment can control air movement in the home, limit where workers will be and create a barrier to keep unwanted people and pets away from the work and workers. Vertical containment and work-area containment practices together can maintain social distancing. You can also limit staffing within these work areas to one employee to avoid virus spread among your employees.
Follow Cleaning Verification Methods
RRP Certified Renovators were trained how to properly clean and verify adequate cleaning after performing RRP work. My research shows that using a HEPA vac does not filter out viruses; however, in the training we were taught how to clean using wet processes. In my opinion, cleaning with wet wipes, specifically disinfecting wet wipes, is a great way to clean a work area before allowing occupants to return to and use the space.
All surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned before the vertical containment is removed. Using gloves and face masks, workers can use RRP cleaning protocols as well as defined RRP cleaning-verification process to ensure work areas have been left clean.
As an extra precaution, you can also suggest owners stay out of the work area for several days after cleaning it. Opinions vary, and this virus is new, but one source claims the virus can only survive for three days on hard surfaces, while another suggests up to nine days under certain conditions.
Then There Is Documentation
The EPA RRP rule requires documentation of the work done as well as the work practices used to perform the work and doing final cleanup. Protocol and paperwork for these already exist. These can be easily adapted for documenting your new coronavirus mitigation efforts.
Just as RRP Certified Renovators train their non-certified workers on how to perform the RRP-specific work practices, you can train and document the training of field workers. Why not also document the way you contained the work and cleaned up before allowing clients to use it again?
Requiring your lead carpenter to document work and cleanup protocols can hold field staff accountable to follow through on your strategies. Documenting is a good way to show customers you protected them. It also helps limit or avoid legal liabilities related to future coronavirus infections. There are no guarantees against liability. Consumers can sue for anything they want. But having a proactive plan of action and documenting that your business followed it can help limit accusations of negligence.
This coronavirus pandemic is new to all of us right now. We’re all going through scary times. Education is one way to address the challenge and our anxieties. My suggestion of using RRP-related protocols and work practices is just one way of using what already exists, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Be safe out there. QR
McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at shawnmccadden.com.
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